Posts Tagged 'sylvia earle'

Lecture Re-cap: “Hope: A Plan for Our Oceans”

The most important thing that we extract from the ocean is our existence.

Last night, American oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer, Dr. Sylvia Earle kicked-off our spring lecture series with an amazing session titled “Hope: A Plan for Our Oceans”!

national aquarium lecture sylvia earle

Dr. Earle’s lecture focused on the concept of embracing ocean “hope spots” around the world, aquatic treasures like our own National Marine Sanctuaries. Hope spots are special places that are critical to the health of the ocean, Earth’s blue heart.

Here are just a few highlights from Dr. Earle’s inspirational talk: 

  • Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872. It took 100 years after that for our nation to establish the first National Marine Sanctuary.
  • Sixty-four percent of the world’s oceans lie beyond national jurisdiction.
  • About half of the oceans’ coral reefs are gone. This tragedy is is due to issues like ocean acidification, habitat degradation and overfishing.
  • Since the foundation of Mission Blue in 2009, 51 hope spots have been declared worldwide. These areas give all ocean lovers and conservationists hope for the future. As Dr. Earle reminded us last night, the time to act on behalf of the ocean is now!

For those of you who weren’t able to attend or tune into our special lecture last night, a full video is available to watch here: 

Join the conversation online about the importance of marine-protected areas using #HopeSpots!

A Blue View: Inspiring Hope for the Ocean

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

February 26, 2014: Inspiring Hope

A Blue View podcastClick here to listen to John discuss how
“Her Deepness,” Dr. Sylvia Earle is
inspiring hope for the ocean’s future!

It’s been said that hope is the most powerful motivator in the world…a principle with which I happen to agree. I came to this, in good measure, due to a remarkable person named Dr. Sylvia Earle, oceanographer, scientist, National Geographic explorer-in-residence, and one of this blue planet’s most ardent champions.

Dr. Sylvia Earle

I had the good fortune of working with Dr. Earle a few years ago in launching a new organization called Mission Blue. What I learned while working with this ardent advocate for what she calls Earth’s blue heart, is that conservation is ultimately about the power of hope.

In this time of 24-hour news cycle, we hear endlessly about the world’s “hot spots,” bleak stories of civil wars, droughts and degraded ecosystems. Sylvia, however, took an entirely new tack when she launched the idea of “hope spots,” special places in our ocean that are critical to our planet’s health and worth restoring and preserving as marine protected areas.

These hope spots are found throughout world, including areas such as the Coral Triangle in the western Pacific – perhaps the most diverse marine ecosystem on Earth; the deep underwater canyons of Alaska’s Bering Sea – home to whales, fur seals, king crabs, and even cold water corals; the evocatively named White Shark Café – a critical breeding and feeding ground in the deep Pacific for great white sharks; and the Mesoamerican Reef – the world’s second longest coral reef, which spans three Central American nations. The message that Sylvia wants to share is that there is still hope, provided we take decisive action, now.

In fact, she has identified 51 existing or potential hope spots …impressive, until we learn that less than two percent of the ocean is currently protected, in contrast to over 12 percent of the world’s land area. Considering that the ocean covers 71 percent of the planet, we have a long way to go.

When Sylvia received the coveted TED Prize a few years ago, she declared that the next 10 years will likely be more important than the last 10,000 to the future of the ocean. What we do right now will set the tone for our relationship with this ocean planet for a long time to come.

So, where do we stand? Well, it would be easy to despair… we humans have eaten more than 90 percent of the sea’s big fish, nearly half the world’s coral reefs have disappeared or are at risk, dead zones continue to increase around the mouths of many of our mightiest rivers and we have now identified five massive trash gyres in the world’s largest oceans.

5 gyres

But in the midst of all this negativity, Sylvia reminds us that there is hope. Ten percent of those big fish still live—enough to restore most fish stocks, given time. Fifty percent of coral reefs are still thriving and worthy of saving. And we can bring those dead zones back to life just by taking better care of the water that flows down our rivers. In fact, the percentage of marine protected areas has doubled since Sylvia began this mission seven years ago by deftly steering former President George Bush into declaring two of the largest marine protected areas in US history.

In a storied career that includes leading more than 100 ocean science expeditions and logging more than 7,000 hours underwater, Sylvia knows the ocean as few do. She believes that a global network of hope spots can support biodiversity, absorb our carbon, generate life-giving oxygen, preserve critical habitat and allow low-impact activities like adventure travel and artisanal fishing to thrive.

Now that’s reason for hope.

Learn more about our 2014 Marjorie Lynn Bank Lecture Series and get tickets and information on upcoming events.

national aquarium CEO john racanelli

Join Us for a Special Lecture with Famed Oceanographer, Dr. Slyvia Earle!

The National Aquarium is proud to partner with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (NMSF) to offer a glimpse into contemporary ocean issues in the 2014 Marjorie Lynn Bank Lecture Series, beginning with oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle!

Dr. Sylvia Earle

The year-long speaker series will highlight the diverse network of the National Marine Sanctuary System and will give guests the opportunity to learn from ocean experts who are working on the front line of ocean conservation and exploration including luminaries, scientists, explorers and artists.

Earle, an American oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer, kicks off our Spring series with her session, “Hope: A Plan for Our Ocean” on February 27th. During the lecture, Earle will share her experiences exploring “inner-space” to rally support for hope spots, which she describes as special places around the world that are critical to the health of the ocean.

Earle has been a National Geographic explorer-in-residence since 1998, and was named Time magazine’s first “Hero for the Planet” in 1998. Her recently-released film, Mission Blue, traces her journey from her earliest memories exploring the ocean to her days leading a daring undersea mission. Check out this special clip of Mission Blue: 

Tickets for Earle’s lecture are available for purchase here (admission is $20 for National Aquarium members and $35 for non-members). The entire presentation will also be streamed live at aqua.org/lectures.

We hope you’ll join us for the special kick-off of our Marjorie Lynn Banks Lecture Series! 

The Ocean, Our Planet’s Final Frontier

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In Barcelona in 2006, oceanographer Sylvia Earle received an international award for her storied career as an ocean explorer. Also honored that day was John Hanke, developer of the now-famous Earth visualization tool Google Earth. Smiling slyly, Dr. Earle commended John for creating an amazing new way to view the world, then asked, “When do you plan to finish it? You’ve done a great job with the land—‘Google Dirt.’ What about the ocean?” Thus challenged, John asked Sylvia and her team to help him fix this oversight and in early 2009, we unveiled Ocean in Google Earth, offering earthlings a global view of the ocean’s vast bathymetry.

This story illustrates a truth about how many of us think (or more accurately, don’t think) about the ocean. Though half the world’s population lives within 50 miles of a coast, the cliché “out of sight, out of mind” describes the way most of us relate to the expansive, interconnected ocean that covers 70 percent of Earth’s surface and contains 97 percent of its water.

This blue planet is indeed a water planet, yet incredibly, over 90 percent of the ocean remains unexplored and unseen by humans. In a world that’s increasingly tamed and cataloged, it’s astounding to learn that until last year, only two human beings had been to the ocean’s greatest depth: Challenger Deep, off the Mariana Islands. That epic descent occurred in 1960—before we’d even ventured into space! Just last year, one more explorer made the voyage: renowned filmmaker James Cameron piloted a new craft, Deepsea Challenger, there and back. I suspect we’ll soon be treated to some spectacular footage of a world we understand less than we do the planet Mars.

Experts believe that up to two-thirds of the plant and animal species in the ocean may still await our discovery, with as many as one million species of non-bacterial sealife yet to be identified. In other words, we’ve only scratched the ocean’s surface.

Scientists, poets and philosophers have referred to the ocean as our planet’s life-support system, its blue lungs. Our air, weather, freshwater, climate and much of our food are ultimately regulated, moderated or provided by the sea’s seemingly limitless bounty. Over 2.6 billion people rely on the ocean for their primary source of protein. And we count on the ocean to absorb more than 30 percent of the climate-changing carbon dioxide (CO2) we produce.

Yet for all these benefits (called ‘ecosystem services’ by ecologists), the ocean cannot sustain our unrelenting onslaught. We put in too many bad things, take out too many good things, and reconfigure its shores, chemistry and balance. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists have calculated that the ocean absorbs and stores 50 times more CO2 than the atmosphere, yet it’s no secret that atmospheric levels of this greenhouse gas are rising at an alarming rate and now routinely approach 400 parts per million; at this rate, we are poised to double pre-Industrial Revolution CO2 levels in the next few decades. And, in case you’re wondering, human-influenced climate change is no longer mere theory, as if it ever were. In a review of 12,000 papers published in research journals, 97 percent of the authors—atmospheric scientists who seldom agree on anything—concur that it is directly attributed to human activities.

Against this gloomy backdrop, one might ask, “What hope is there?” In my view, there’s plenty. We have never known so much about aquatic systems and the delicate interplay between them. We’ve doubled the area of our National Marine Sanctuary system over the past decade. We have a National Ocean Policy and a nascent implementation plan, the first in our nation’s history. Whether in fisheries management, ecosystem thinking or product life-cycle planning, we’re learning from our past and planning a better future.

Here at National Aquarium, we value the conservation of aquatic treasures—by which we mean habitats and inhabitants, human and non-human, individual and community. By definition, treasures are worth protecting. World Oceans Day is one way of celebrating such oceanic treasures. This year, I invite you to embrace a thought, one shared by all of us who commit our lives to the sea: the ocean matters to me and to those I love. With every drop of water you drink and every breath you take, you are connected to this complex ecosystem, whether you live on the coast, in the mountains, in a city or a desert.

Simply by existing, the ocean gives us the gift of life. It’s time we returned the favor.

Blog-Header-JohnRacanelli

Take Back the Planet, and Not Just on Earth Day

Earth Day

The following is an excerpt from National Aquarium’s CEO John Racanelli’s piece in today’s Baltimore Sun:

For over 40 years, Earth Day has sent a powerful message: that each of us has both the capacity and the duty to support the environment that sustains us. This is certainly a message that dedicated conservationists can get behind, but what about everyday people with busy lives, kids to raise and jobs to keep? For many, Earth Day has become a day of celebration rather than an urgent call to join a movement.

Earth Day Network, the organization behind Earth Day, cites the impressive statistic that 1 billion people participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. Participants plant trees, clean streams and resolve to recycle more. In schools around the world, students spend several weeks learning about the planet and how they can make a difference.

What really matters, though, is what people do the day after Earth Day — and for the 363 days after that. Earth Day was born out of a desire to do something. In 1970, 20 million individuals from all walks of life united to protest the deterioration of the environment, and the results included the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act. Why can’t Earth Day 2013 be the start of this same kind of sea change?

My colleague Sylvia Earle, a renowned oceanographer whom Time Magazine called a “Hero for the Planet,” has said that the next 10 years may be more important than the last 10,000 in determining the fate of our oceans. She may as well be talking about the fate of humans. It may not be the planet that needs saving so much as we do.

 To read more of John’s call-to-action, click here

How are you celebrating Earth Day? Tell us in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter using #EarthDay


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